UK government suggests fracking 'traffic light' system to avoid quakes

17 April 2012 00:01  [Source: ICIS news]

A Cuadrilla drilling rig in Lancashire, UKLONDON (ICIS)--Hydraulic fracturing - or fracking - should be subject to robust measures to minimise the risk of related seismic activity, according to a report from the UK government on Tuesday.

Future shale gas drilling operations must be more effectively monitored and include a “traffic light" system which would halt fracking if seismic activity reached 0.5 magnitude on the Richter scale.

Fracking should also include a smaller, pre-injection and monitoring stage, the independent study said.

The report was commissioned by the UK’s Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) after two minor earthquakes in the northwest of England last year, linked to fracking carried out by Cuadrilla Resources.

“If shale gas is to be part of the UK’s energy mix we need to have a good understanding of its potential environmental impacts and what can be done to mitigate those impacts,” said the DECC’s Chief Scientific Advisor David MacKay.

“This comprehensive, independent expert review of Cuadrilla’s evidence suggests a set of robust measures to make sure future seismic risks are minimised - not just at this location but at any other potential sites across the UK.”

The DECC is inviting public comment for six weeks on the report’s recommendations, which relate specifically to drilling operations at Cuadrilla’s Bowland Basin licensed acreage in Lancashire and elsewhere in the UK.

The two earthquakes happened in the Blackpool area in April and May last year, measuring 2.3 and 1.5 on the Richter scale respectively.

Cuadrilla halted drilling in the Bowland Basin following the tremors and its operations elsewhere in Lancashire have been disrupted by environmental protesters.

The company commissioned its own report from European seismologists and geo-engineering experts last year, which found fracking was the most likely cause of the earthquakes.

The DECC’s full report is available here.


By: Graeme Paterson
+44 20 8652 3214



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